Marc Ecko: From Fashion to Fighting For Education Reform Online
by Shira Lazar
We all know Marc Ecko because of his contributions to the the fashion world, but now he’s taking on corporal punishment in schools through a campaign called Unlimited Justice. I spoke to him about corporal punishment and creating an activist movement online.
When Ecko — who is active in education reform– began this campaign in March, corporal punishment (ex. Hitting or spanking students with wooden paddles or pinching) was still legal in 20 states. While it may be legal, is it actually being practiced in schools today?
The most recent data around the subject was released in March 2008, showing that in 2005-2006 223,190 school children in the U.S. were subjected to physical punishment. Ecko told me that this treatment towards students can be correlated to drop outs as well.
Instead of pushing the typical petition, emails or letters to legislators, he went digital. In early April, he teamed up with Foursquare where users could check in to their schools and see if their educators were “paddle happy.”
He also created the destination UnlimitedJustice.com, which he says is very much like a social game. Just go to the site and you can learn more about the issue, login to Facebook to sign the pledge and invite your friends to join the movement too.
Ecko and his supporters have begun to see the fruits of their social media labor. On April 6th, New Mexico became the 30th state to ban corporal punishment. While there’s nothing that can necessarily prove that one is inherently connected to the other, there’s no doubt that platforms like his could also be used as a template for other campaigns in the future.
Instead of public marches, he told me, these types of social tools can allow for a new form of activism.
While many may question the ability for social media movements like these to actually provoke any real offline change, Ecko has proven that each tweet and status update can definitely add up and be heard in a real way.